2013 CSA - Week 1!
Today was the first pick up day for the 2013 CSA season with Uncle Bill’s Farm. A few new things on the farm, including the sign in the photo above, a larger more permanent tent, and this fun chalkboard showcasing the produce:
I took home everything on that list minus lettuce and also my dozen eggs. My basket spillith over!
Since I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting today, and since I’m having an otherwise extremely busy week, I hadn’t hit the grocery store and decided on dinner on the drive home. Alex mentioned a pesto he made with the arugula and parsley. Since I had no plans as of then, pesto sounded fairly quick and easy and I decided on this recipe from Cooking Light for tonight. I had made this back in the late winter/early spring and I knew it would be perfect come CSA season. I used red beets from the farm in place of golden beets and the arugula in place of basil. Here are the beets:
And the arugula, or rocket, as they say in Britain :)
If you’re not familiar with arugula, I suggest you try it! It’s extremely verdant and peppery. It makes a great base for a salad, often paired with sweeter ingredients to counter the pepper punch. For a simple salad, try arugula with strawberries and blueberries and a poppy seed dressing. Or as I did tonight, it makes a yummy pesto! (Pesto can be so much more than the traditional basil and pine nuts.) Here’s the pesto before:
And the pesto after: (The lighting in this photo is terrible, not at all capturing the bright greenness!)
The beets and beet greens simmer away together until the beets soften, then it all gets mixed together with the pasta and pesto. Here’s the finished plate, topped with freshly grated Romano cheese:
Ingredients: Beets, Beet Greens, Pesto (Arugula, Almonds, Garlic, EVOO, Romano Cheese), Pasta, Vegetable Stock.
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Beets, Beet Greens, Arugula!
Here’s to a great start to a fabulous CSA season! I’m looking forward to trying new recipes and repeating some of my favorites from last year!
Waste not, want not. After our dinner party, we used what was left of the chicken to make some stock. I actually threw two carcasses in, the one from Uncle Bill’s Farm and another rotisserie from Costco we had a few days ago.
I used this recipe as a guide (Method One), and kind of threw in what I had on hand as well. As you can see I started just after 6PM with a very full stock pot:
Here it is somewhere in the 8PM hour, reduced a fair amount:
A little after 10PM, well reduced and time to strain:
The keep bowl and the throw away bowl:
14 cups to put in the freezer!!
Haha, doesn’t exactly look appetizing but it will be put to good use!
Ingredients: Leftover bones, skin and meat pieces from whole chicken, Celery, Carrots, Onion, Rosemary, Thyme, Salt/Pepper
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Leftover bones, skin and meat pieces from whole chicken!
End of the CSA Season Dinner Party
I love dinner parties. A small gathering of people surrounded by good food engaging in fun conversation - I’m all about it. The preparation for this party started Thursday night. When possible, it’s always a good idea to get things ready ahead of time! Remember my eggplant stacks? I put them on the appetizer menu, and I was able to make the white bean spread Thursday night. It all goes in the food processor, so it comes together pretty fast:
On Friday afternoon I was able to sneak out of work a little bit early to finish off the appetizers. Here is the eggplant that was sliced, seasoned and grilled:
The finished product:
Ingredients: Eggplant, Roasted Red Peppers, Basil, EVOO, White Bean Spread (Cannellini Beans, Feta Cheese, Garlic, Basil, EVOO, Salt/Pepper)
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Eggplant!
Also on the appetizer menu was kale chips! I thought they might turn out better this time as they didn’t have to travel to a tailgate, and I also used two cookie sheets so as not to overcrowd them.
These disappeared pretty fast, so I’ll take that as a compliment.
Ingredients: Kale, EVOO, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt/Pepper
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Kale!
Also served, but not pictured, was a French olive dish, cheese cubes, and the leftover white bean spread with pita chips!
On to the main course! It was the perfect occasion to cook our whole chicken from Uncle Bill’s that we had gotten earlier in the season! Here is the bird, stuffed with aromatics, tied and ready to go in the oven:
When you buy a bird from a farm, it doesn’t come with a pop-up timer to tell you it’s finished! I purchased a basic meat thermometer (though there is quite a range of them on the market!)
Just waiting to be carved:
Ingredients: Whole Chicken, Aromatics (Lemon, Garlic, Thyme, Rosemary), Butter
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Whole Chicken!
While this chicken was roasting, we were busy making the sides! First up, roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli with lemon:
Out of the oven and topped with some romano cheese:
Ingredients: Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Lemon, Salt/Pepper, EVOO, Romano Cheese
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Broccoli!
Stuffing (Pepperidge Farm Cornbread - gotta take a short cut somewhere!)
Mashed Sweet Potatoes (made in the style of my mashed butternut squash)
And, for good measure, here is a picture of the carved chicken and the gravy!
And finally, a glimpse at the table before:
The beer pictured is Narragansett Fest, great for this time of year! I took my advice from Ina Garten when it comes to drinks at a dinner party, offer one white wine, one red wine, beer and a specialty cocktail if you like. Of course, we love themed cocktails! On this night, we saved that for dessert. Mulled Apple Cider with Bourbon, garnished with a cinnamon stick!
Ok, so who’s coming to my next dinner party???
P.S. After cooking a whole chicken, save the carcass! I have chicken stock bubbling away on my stove top as we speak!
It’s a Chilly Chili Day!
This morning when my alarm went off (which, naturally, is also my cell phone) I checked the Weather Channel app and saw that it was 35 degrees outside! Brrr! So I turned off the alarm, wrapped the covers back around me and slept for another 45 minutes. (Why did I set my alarm so early in the first place? I am a stupid, crazy lady. And/or I had good intentions of getting other extra things done this morning. Ha, the road to hell is paved with good intentions!) Later, on my drive to work, I used my seat warmer for the first time of the season, and though it was sunny driving in, the clouds came back and the temperature never really rose above 55 degrees. Of course, it would be the perfect day for chili. On my lunch break, I gathered the rest of the ingredients we would need to make this.
Luckily, my drive home was even shorter than usual due to the fact that today was a holiday for some. We had a visitor stopping by and I wanted her to stay for dinner without having her drive home at midnight. Luckily, the CSA has had me in the kitchen even more than I used to be, so I’ve gotten faster at the standard tasks. In almost no time, I had the chop and drop into the oil:
Here’s everything ready to simmer away to perfection:
Served over whole wheat elbow macaroni:
With cheddar cheese and a dollop of Daisy!
Ingredients: Bell Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Ground Turkey, Chili Seasoning, Crushed Tomatoes, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Beer, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream, Whole Wheat Pasta
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Bell Peppers!
So I know I’ve blogged this before, but it always comes out a little bit different :)
It’s the second to last week of the CSA! Here is today’s pick up, lots of leafy greens and autumnal squash.
Bell Peppers, Turnips, Radishes, Kale, Eggs, Butternut Squash and Pumpkin! Yes, Sarah talked me into a pumpkin…I’ll be doing some searching to see how I want to use that. I have never cooked with pumpkin and I’m sure if I ever decided to, I probably would have bought the canned variety. But now, I promise, I am up for the challenge!
Tonight’s dinner was Rustic Chicken Minestrone. We made this a couple of times this year, pre-CSA, and now as fall was hitting decided it would be great to make again! This is so quick and easy for a soup, and the Parmesan rind is like the best kept secret to getting extremely rich flavor in a short amount of time! (Although we used Pecorino Romano.) It’s also very resourceful which, as I’ve mentioned before, is own of my favorite ways to be in the kitchen.
Tomatoes, onions and garlic:
Zucchini, Carrots, Pasta and Cheese Rind waiting to go in the pot (Plus a seasonal treat for the hard working chef!)
The carrots, pasta and cheese rind have been added:
Zucchini and chick peas in the pot:
Dropped the kale:
A plate full of shredded chicken! This really gets the cats excited :)
Everything in and ready to eat:
Here’s my bowl, looking a lot like the picture in the recipe I am happy to report:
Ingredients: Onion, Garlic, Diced Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Cooked Chicken Breasts, Pasta Shells, Carrots, Parmesan Rind (Not optional!), Kale, Zucchini, Chick Peas, Salt/Pepper
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Kale!
The recipe says it serves four…I would say it could serve 6-8. Julie and I both had two helpings and there is still a huge bowl leftover. As for the comment about the liquid-to-vegetable ratio being a little low, it’s true. This is a very rustic, hearty soup. You could always add more chicken stock if you wanted more broth.
One of the new items this week was turnips, so I set out to build a meal around them. I decided on this recipe for Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs. For the turnips, I combined them with the radishes and made these, since they were such a hit the first time. I heard you could even cook the turnip greens, so I set them aside and did just that to round out the meal.
I also heard you could eat these baby turnips raw like you would a radish, so I had to try one. It was sweet and nutty, almost tasted like peanut butter. I wanted to eat the rest raw and forget about the braise. But, I held back for the greater good of the meal. Here is the beginning of the braising process:
About halfway through:
Towards the end:
The chicken thighs were so simple to make and so full of flavor. I put the spices in a large ziploc bag and tossed with the chicken. Just like shake ‘n bake! They are so small and cook so fast under the broiler:
For the turnip greens I blanched them, then drained and add them back to a pan with a little bit of olive oil and salt/pepper to warm them back up. These greens didn’t really even need the blanch, they are more tender and less bitter than kale. A beautiful plate, and definitely a quick, yummy chicken I will add to my repertoire!
Ingredients: Chicken thighs, spice rub, honey, apple cider vinegar, radishes, turnips, butter, onion, salt/pepper/sugar, turnips greens
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Radishes, Turnips, Turnip Greens!
It was just another Meatless Monday…
Who says Mondays have to be Manic? This past Monday I made pasta with a fresh eggplant and tomato sauce. I am totally embracing eggplant now! Here it is with the tomatoes:
To add some flavor and make this more of a sauce, I added this Spanish red wine:
Spanish reds, so romantic…sigh…
As a side, I wilted down some baby spinach:
Mixed in some feta cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice:
It was just like a Florentine omelette without the egg, perfect because who needs the egg anyway??
Ingredients: Pasta, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Garlic, Red Wine, Romano Cheese, Spinach, Feta Cheese, Lemon Juice, Fresh Bread
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Eggplant!
This turned out to be really yummy. I am wishy-washy with Italian food, I have kind of a love-hate relationship with it, so I was happy to enjoy this meal. Julie enjoyed it so much she joined the CPC (Clean Plate Club) twice…and I’m talking wipe-up-every-last-bit-of-sauce-with-the-bread-so-you-could-put-that-plate-straight-back-in-the-cabinet, that kind of clean ;)
Among the new items available at the farm this week were leeks and when I saw them I immediately wanted to hurry home and make potato leek soup. It is one of my favorites, so simple to make, quick for a soup, and the weather has started to turn colder. All the elements were aligned! Here’s the recipe we use, from Julie’s aunt.
Here are my leeks from the farm. I had to supplement them with some store bought ones, since I forgot how many the recipe needed!
Chopped and rinsed:
Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced:
Ready to boil:
We used low-fat half and half in place of heavy cream:
Served with fresh cracked black pepper and crusty bread!
Ingredients: Leeks, Potatoes, Chicken Stock, Heavy Cream(Half and Half), Butter, Salt/Pepper, Bread
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Leeks!
The Chili Blog
I told you it was coming. Yes it’s true, we celebrated the NFL season opener with chili, corn muffins and beers. Football season goes hand in hand with good food! Some chopped onion, garlic and peppers to start it off:
Throw ‘em in the pot:
Here is the chili simmering away:
Though we usually follow the same basic recipe, one that we pretty much made up and reinvented over the years, it always comes out tasting slightly different. This had to be in the top 3. One secret ingredient is beer. It adds so much flavor and depth and in this batch the beer flavor was superb. On this occasion we used Landshark, one of my favorite summer beers.
And, you all know, cornbread…ain’t nothing wrong with that!
Another great thing about chili is the leftovers. This became two dinners for us, and chili is sometimes better after a day in the fridge. I have a muffin obsession, so when it was time for chili round two, there were definitely no corn muffins left. Luckily, we did have some tortilla shells on hand. Have you ever made tortilla chips at home? It’s really not that hard and it’s so delicious. Especially if you are a tortilla chip fiend like me!
Step one: Cut the shells into wedges. (You should use corn tortillas, however these ones were a corn/flour hybrid.)
Step 2: Drop wedges into hot vegetable oil.
Step 3: Once brown, remove to paper towel.
Step 4: Place in chili and enjoy!
Ingredients: Onion, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Jalapeno, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Ground Turkey, Crushed Tomatoes, Chili Seasoning, Beer
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Onion, Bell Pepper, Jalapeno!
Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
With this pick up from week 12 yesterday, the most exciting thing was that crate of tomatillos in the background. Last time the farm had these, it was right after we had made our own salsa, so I didn’t take them. Then a few tomatillo-less weeks went by, and I was afraid I would never get the chance to venture from standard salsa to salsa verde. So yesterday, I scooped those up and I featured them in tonight’s dinner. For the salsa verde, I used this recipe from seriouseats. We substituted jalapenos for the serrano chiles. Here are the tomatillos with husks aside:
Looking exquisitely verdant and ready to simmer:
Simmer down now!
Put it in a blender, and let me get the hang, of how it fits together…
Ingredients: Tomatillos, Poblano, Jalapeno, Cilantro, Garlic, Water, Lime Juice, Sour Cream
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Tomatillos and Jalapeno!
So this lovely salsa verde was to go atop our enchiladas. We did a chicken/veggie/cheese filling. Here are the veggies:
You say too much cheese?? I say no such thing!
Filling the shells:
Packed in the casserole dish:
Topped with the salsa verde! (Lightened by the sour cream)
Baked and ready to eat :)
Ingredients: Tortillas, Chicken, Onions, Bell Peppers, Squash, Cheddar Jack Cheese, Salsa Verde
Ingredients from Uncle Bill’s Farm: Onions, Bell Peppers, Squash!
Thoughts: I think this salsa was supposed to be thin, as it looked in the picture from the recipe, but next time I would drain some of the water and make it a little chunkier. Also, while I think the sour cream in this recipe worked since we were using the salsa as an enchilada sauce, I would eliminate it if using this as a dip. I like my salsa verde straight up.